Cotric stuns teammates with gutsy intercept
At 18 years of age and in his fourth game in the NRL in front of almost 30,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium, Nick Cotric had no right to have even been thinking about trying to intercept a Matt Gillett flick pass rather than hold his place on the try-line opposite Jordan Kahu.
That he not only had the instincts to go for it but pulled it off is another example according to his teammates of just how comfortable he has become in the top grade in such a short space of time.
Neither team could find a way to cross the try-line in conventional means in the first 40 minutes but when the Broncos attacked down a short side late in the half and created an extra man a four-pointer was there for the taking.
Gillett's flick pass was Matt Gidley-esque and would have hit an unmarked Kahu on the chest a metre out from the try-line had Cotric not dived headlong to snatch it out of the air and regaining his feet to get his team further away from danger.
It's a play that is unlikely to feature on any highlight reels today but reaffirmed to his fellow Raiders that they have got a special talent sitting out on their left wing.
"Coming up with a play like that at Suncorp Stadium at that crucial time just shows that he's ready for first grade and he's got a long career ahead of him," Josh Papalii told NRL.com.
"He's not a quiet kid, he's got a lot of energy. Especially when he's around the halves he's always going to be a bit chirpy but it's good to have another personality in the team and we're all about that."
It wasn't the only good decision Cotric made in the Raiders' 13-12 loss on Friday night. When Darius Boyd slipped in between Aidan Sezer and Jarrod Croker midway through the first half Cotric jammed in from his wing and very nearly brought the Broncos fullback down short of the line.
Cotric is in the team primarily to score tries but two weeks into their partnership on the left edge Croker has been impressed with the youngster's decision making in defence.
"He copped a bit of a knock there but he was good to go and he toughed it out," Croker said.
"He's a young kid and 30,000 people there tonight and he did really well. He saved a few tries for us and his talk was really good and along with our other outside backs and fullback he got us out of trouble in yardage.
"He's going to keep getting better each week and I thought he was pretty good again tonight."
A Broncos fan growing up in Canberra until the emergence of Josh Dugan converted him to support the 'Green Machine', performing so strongly in his Suncorp Stadium debut is another feather in the Cotric cap.
Nursing an ice pack just under his ribs on his left side after the game, Cotric told NRL.com that the guidance he is receiving from Croker and Papalii is helping him to feel more and more comfortable with each game he plays in the top grade.
"I'm feeling very confident outside Croker and Papalii," Cotric said.
"'Crokes' has been helping me heaps with his talk and his experience and he's just a very well-rounded player.
"I did the whole pre-season and all the boys helped out heaps. Just the little things like telling me when to go and when not to go. I was learning off 'Rapa' [Jordan Rapana] and 'BJ' [Joey Leilua] too so they helped me out too.
"Week one I was heaps nervous. I was shaking in the changerooms and Jack Wighton told me to calm down, calm down and just slowly and slowly I'm getting less nervous.
"Gradually I'm getting more confidence each weekend and each week but still a lot of improving to do."